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California Doctors to Get Wired in State's Largest e-Prescribing Initiative

CalPERS, Anthem Blue Cross, Medco Health Solutions, and Blue Shield of California Look to Promote Adoption Among Physicians

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The State of California's efforts to move into the age of wired health care received a shot in the arm today as The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) joined with Anthem Blue Cross, Medco Health Solutions, Inc., and Blue Shield of California to launch the state's largest electronic prescribing (e-Prescribing) initiative to date. Medco Health Solutions is providing project management resources for the pilot program.

The pilot program, the latest large-scale initiative in the United States, will use input from participating physicians to determine the best ways to employ e-Prescribing technology in their practices and facilitate use by all prescribers. Program organizers will track results such as the number of identified preventable adverse drug events, use of e-Prescribing, and generic drug and formulary prescribing rates. A report to be released at the end of the study will showcase results of the pilot program.

The scope of the project includes working with several physician groups that serve CalPERS members in addition to other patients in the community. The health plan Anthem Blue Cross and the health plan Blue Shield of California will each work with the pilot medical groups and their chosen e-Prescribing vendors to address barriers to e-Prescribing.

"The evidence supports the thesis that e-Prescribing improves patient safety, enhances the quality of patient care, and reduces cost to the physician, the health plan and the patient," said Priya Mathur, Chair of the CalPERS Health Benefits Committee. "Our goal with this pilot project is to protect our members' safety, while accelerating the acceptance and adoption of e-Prescribing by the physicians who serve them."

"We believe that e-Prescribing is the first step to wiring health care, and that working well with doctors is essential to e-Prescribing's success. Our initiative will help us identify how to best transition to technology solutions that will help doctors improve outcomes and lower costs." said John P. Driscoll, Medco's President of New Markets.

"I believe e-Prescribing used at this broader level will help ensure patient safety on several fronts," said Leslie A. Margolin, president of Anthem Blue Cross. "This tool will help to eliminate the danger of handwriting misinterpretation or having incomplete patient information. e-Prescribing can also flag drug-to-drug interactions and allergies at the point of care."

"e-Prescribing reduces medication errors, lowers prescription drug costs and decreases administrative costs for physicians and pharmacies," said Nancy Stalker, vice president, pharmacy benefit management, Blue Shield of California. "At Blue Shield of California, we are committed to improving the quality and accessibility of health care, and we expect this pilot program to help speed the adoption of e-Prescribing throughout California."

e-Prescribing uses an automated data entry system (such as a desktop computer, handheld device or personal computer tablet) in the physician's office to electronically submit a prescription to the patient's pharmacy of choice. e-Prescribing gives physicians real-time access to important safety and prescription coverage information, so they can make more informed prescribing decisions. e-Prescribing has been widely recognized for its ability to improve patient safety, increase practice efficiency for physicians and pharmacies, and reduce health care costs.

The physician groups volunteering for this pilot include: Hill Physicians Medical Group, John Muir Physician Network, PrimeCare Medical Network, Inc./North American Medical Management of California, San Jose Medical Group, and Sante Community Physicians.

e-Prescribing in California

According to the 2008 Electronic Prescribing Progress Report, California ranked 22nd in the nation for use of e-Prescribing, down from 18 in 2006 and 14 in 2005; only 1.44 percent of prescriptions within the state were transmitted electronically in 2007(1). The need exists for continued coordination between all parties involved in the electronic prescription process to address barriers to electronic prescribing. That fact was underscored by a survey sent to more than 50 medical groups targeted to participate in this e-Prescribing initiative. Results of the survey showed that 22 percent have e-Prescribing solutions, but adoption rates are still low. Furthermore, almost 30 percent of practices surveyed do not have e-Prescribing now and have no plan to implement e-Prescribing in 2009.

e-Prescribing has been widely recognized as a secure transaction that can improve patient safety, increase practice efficiency for physicians and pharmacies, and reduce health care costs. A study by the E-Health Initiative projected that nationwide adoption of e-prescribing would save $27 billion a year, primarily as a result of decreased spending on prescription drugs.

The CalPERS e-Prescribing pilot program will continue through December 2009. Results will be reported in 2010 at which time the program will be evaluated. The e-Prescribing software used by all participating physician groups meets Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements for privacy and security.

Statements from physicians participating in this pilot

The following are statements of support from the physician groups participating in this pilot.

"In the beginning, it took time to get used to, but after about a month, my staff became comfortable with the system, and now the benefits of e-Prescribing are apparent," said Dr. Alvin Sockolov, a family practitioner in Sacramento with the Hill Physicians Medical Group. "I can send prescriptions to local pharmacies or mail-order pharmacies and I'm alerted to potential drug-drug interactions and allergies. I can also select the best medication for my patients based on their insurance plan."

"Electronic Prescribing improves patient safety, eliminates calls from the pharmacist to clarify a handwritten prescription and makes ordering refills easy," said Michael P. Kern, M.D., of the John Muir Physician Network. "In addition to protecting the patient, e-Prescribing can save the patient money. e-Prescribing systems also give information on which drugs are less expensive for patients during the prescription issuing process," Dr. Kern adds.

"We are excited about being approached to participate in the Anthem Blue Cross e-prescribing initiative as it fits in with our own quality program that is focused on decreasing medication errors, improving generic utilization and most importantly, it is consistent with our overall physician e-connectivity strategy," said Dr. Rod St. Clair, Chief Medical Officer of PrimeCare Medical Network, Inc./North American Medical Management of California.

"San Jose Medical Group is excited to accept the invitation by Anthem Blue Cross to participate in this e-Prescribing initiative," said Dr. Dean Didech, Chief Medical Officer of the San Jose Medical Group. "Our physicians believe that e-Prescribing offers opportunities to reduce medication errors, lower prescription costs and add convenience for our patients."

"e-Prescribing is about safety and convenience for patients - it assures that a patient's doctor is aware of any potential harmful interactions between a new prescription and the medicines the patient is already taking, and that the medication being prescribed is covered by the patient's health plan. In short, e-Prescribing is about getting the right medicine to the right patient as quickly and safely as possible," said Daniel Bluestone, M.D., Medical Director, Sante Community Physicians in Fresno, California.

About CalPERS

CalPERS is the nation's largest public pension fund with more than $166 billion in market assets. It provides retirement benefits to more than 1.6 million State, school and local public employees, retirees and their families, and health benefits to nearly 1.3 million members. For more on CalPERS, visit

About Anthem Blue Cross

Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California. Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Association. (R) ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association.

About Blue Shield of California

Blue Shield of California, an independent member of the Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health plan dedicated to providing Californians with access to high quality care at a reasonable price. Founded in 1939, it now has 3.4 million members, 4,700 employees, one of the largest provider networks and more than 20 office locations, providing a wide range of commercial and government products throughout the state. The company has contributed $100 million over the past three years to the Blue Shield of California Foundation to fund nonprofit organizations that improve access to quality health care in California. Contact your local agent or broker for more information about Blue Shield products and services, or visit the Blue Shield web site at

About Medco

Medco Health Solutions, Inc., (NYSE: MHS) is a leading health care company, serving the needs of more than 60 million people. Medco, the world's most advanced pharmacy(R), provides clinically driven pharmacy services designed to improve the quality of care and lower total health care costs for private and public employers, health plans, labor unions, and government agencies of all sizes, as well as individuals served by Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. Through its unique Medco Therapeutic Resource Centers(R) and Accredo Health Group, Inc., Medco's specialty pharmacy, the company is creating innovative models for the care of patients with chronic and complex conditions. Medco is a leader in the emerging field of personalized medicine and in applying evidence-based protocols to elevate the practice of pharmacy--a key element in reforming America's health care system. Medco is ranked number 45 on the Fortune 500 list, with 2008 revenues of more than $51 billion. For more information about Medco, go to

This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause results to differ materially from those set forth in the statements. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed, and actual results may differ materially from those projected. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the risks and uncertainties that affect our business, particularly those mentioned in the Risk Factors section of the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

(1) SureScripts Safe Rx Program. California ranking: Accessed on June 17, 2009.

SOURCE Medco Health Solutions, Inc.
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